#3 Leptecophylla juniperina

IMG_1119GCommon Pinkberry, previously known by scientific name Cyathodes juniperina. In the family Ericaceae. Genus name Leptecophylla is pronounced lep-tee-co-FIL-lah from Greek “lepteces (meaning fine-pointed) and “phyllon” (meaning leaf). Species name juniperina from Latin “juniperus” for the short needle-like leaves. This species in not endemic to Tasmania. It is also known in Victoria and New Zealand.

There are several varieties of L. juniperina. The plant lists I received prior to my visit to the island did not specify which varieties occurred on Maatsuyker Island, but comparing my observations and measurements to the botanical descriptions, I believe I saw var juniperina.

IMG_1795GBy the time I arrived on the island in December 2011, the flowers were finished but the fruit was forming.  At the start of development, the drupe is small and green in the shape of an apple, spherical but slightly squashed. It measured about 5 mm in diameter. As the berry grows, the apple-green colour becomes paler and the first tinges of pink appear. Eventually, the characteristic bright carmine pink berries light up the dark undergrowth. I measured the diameter of the fruit at 7 – 9mm. The leaves are thin sharply pointed and pungent to about 1cm long and 1mm wide. The upper surface is glabrous and dark green. The under surface is much paler with the characteristic Ericaceae parallel veins. Compared to Leptecophylla abietina, the leaves of L. juniperina are shorter and narrower, more regularly spread along the branch, and less clustered.

During a recent visit (March 2015) to Melaleuca on the south west coast of Tasmania, I saw several examples of this plant, including one with white berries. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApparently the berry colour can vary from white to very deep pink or red.

The mystery of the name change.. Why was this plant (and a couple of others) reclassified from genus Cyathodes to Leptecophylla? Cyathodes is a genus in the Ericaceae family characterised by a deeply five-cleft calyx.  Using the internet, I found reference to a paper from 1999 which will hopefully reveal the answer:  Weiller, C. M. 1999: Leptecophylla, a New Genus for Species Formerly Included in Cyathodes (Epacridaceae). Muelleria 12(2): 195-214.

LeptecophyllaJuniperinaV1This is my work-in-progress watercolour representation of the plant. I am hoping to catch the plant in flower on a visit to Cradle Mountain in a few weeks time.

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One Response to #3 Leptecophylla juniperina

  1. Pingback: My Maatsuyker Island Plant List | MaatsuykerDreaming

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